Thursday, 13 June 2024

‘Meg 2: The Trench’ adrenaline rush action B-movie


Consistent with its predecessor, “Meg 2: The Trench” is a cheesy action thriller that no one, particularly the filmmakers, can take seriously.

Like “The Meg,” this sequel brings back favorite characters as well as the inherent silliness of mindless diversion.

Popcorn entertainment is not a totally bad thing when you can leave your brain at home and sit for just short of two hours in a theater because the megalodons and other prehistoric creatures look so much more impressive on the big screen.

To anyone who has seen “Jaws” or any number of Godzilla movies, what happens in “Meg 2” is as predictable as guessing what the weather will be like on a summer day in Death Valley. But that doesn’t really matter unless you are a cynic.

After a brief opening scene to demonstrate how prehistoric creatures ruled the earth for 65 million years, patience will be required until we get to the meat of the story, or the reason we showed up, namely to witness the battle of man versus monsters.

However, even the brief interlude of the Cretaceous period offers a lesson on the food chain of prehistoric times, as a dragonfly is scarfed by a giant lizard, which is in turn devoured by a T-Rex, who ventures too close to the ocean’s edge and meets his fate with a megalodon.

Having Jason Statham return as deep-sea diver and environmental activist Jonas Taylor is a nod to his status as a fan favorite. Now he’s teamed up with Chinese megastar Wu Jing’s Jiuming Zhang for a submersible dive into the trench 25,000 feet below.

The human action gets a kick-start when Jonas stows away on a cargo ship to stop the dumping of radioactive waste into the Philippine Sea, a task that requires his martial arts skills before taking a dangerous leap into the ocean for a daring airborne rescue.

There’s a swanky celebratory event at the oceanographic Zhang Institute, where any number of corporate types might plant the inevitable seed of some sort of malfeasance or treachery looming on the horizon.

Spoiler alert! There is a corporate villain by the name of Driscoll (Sienna Guillory), who has her eye on massive profits that have nothing at all to do with preserving the ocean’s ecosystem.

The institute holds a megalodon in captivity that is named Haiqi and has been trained by Jiuming to respond in Pavlovian fashion to a clicker. The big fish swims about in a large tank where it can be seen through a supposedly impenetrable glass wall.

Jonas and Jiuming, along with their crew, make a deep dive into the trench, only to find that a stowaway on board is teenager Meiying (Sophia Cai), the niece of Jiuming who also counts Jason as a father figure.

Treachery is afoot when the Zhang Institute crew are betrayed by Jess (Skyler Samuels) who is in league with a bunch of mercenaries engaged in a rogue mining operation of the ocean floor without regard for how this unleashes megalodons from their natural habitat.

With a sabotage of the submersible, the Zhang crew are forced into a dangerous trek on the ocean floor to find another means to return to base. This is probably the least interesting part of the movie.

After a fight with mercenaries on the research platform in the ocean, the action gets into serious gear on the curiously-named Fun Island, a resort where the tourists will soon be in danger when megalodons and a humongous octopus arrive near the shore with a vengeance.

We get to marvel at Jonas riding a yellow jet ski, armed with chemical harpoons, in a high-speed chase of megalodons, while a helicopter ends up in a battle with the giant reach of an octopus tentacle.

While some hapless tourists never reach safety, it is satisfying to see some of the bad guys chomped by the megalodons having the incredible ability to leap out of the ocean.

While the megalodons have a healthy appetite for human flesh, the action remains pretty much free of bloody gore, resulting in the death toll being handled in a restrained manner, which allows the film to retain a more family friendly rating.

“Meg 2: The Trench” may disappoint some for the perception of a cautious entertainment that could have either taken the more serious manner of the first “Jaws” movie or the overblown comedic tone of the “Sharknado” franchise.

The possibility of another sequel is left open, and whether it comes to fruition may depend on how well the film performs in China. Having cast Wu Jing in a starring role, the studio may be banking on that outcome.

If there is a sequel, let us hope that Jason Statham’s character becomes more than a stoic action figure with a muscular physique. His trademark cutting wit is central to his appeal, which is largely missing here with a few exceptions.

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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